As the transfer window closed on Monday night at 11pm, Manchester United fans were left with a sense of emptiness as the entire winter passed without a single acquisition.
The Reds fans were made to believe that United would be looking to delve into the transfer market during the mid-season window after Louis van Gaal admitted he was in need of reinforcements at full-back, as well as confirming his interest in a speedy winger.
While Van Gaal was linked with moves for Sadio Mane, Romelu Lukaku, Ahmed Musa and former Manchester City academy graduate Omar Elabdellaoui but they all, rather expectedly, came to nothing as Van Gaal entered the final part of the season with the same squad as the previous period.
There were a few exits, with Victor Valdes’ Old Trafford hell coming to an end as he joined Belgian side Standard Liege on loan for the remainder of the season, while Nick Powell moved to Hull on loan too. Ashley Fletcher’s loan move to Barnsley was extended to the end of the season too, although he only featured in one match-day squad under Louis van Gaal.
But while signings on the pitch were needed but not expected, fans can use this window as a measuring stick as to why the club has fallen so far behind it’s rivals since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson nearly three years ago.
While the Reds did nothing, Chelsea shipped Brazilian midfielder Ramires off to China for £25 million and brought in striker Alexandre Pato on loan. Manchester City announced that Pep Guardiola would take over the squad from July 1st with Manuel Pellegrini to leave, in a move that will undoubtedly see the ‘noisy neighbours’ move up a level next year across all competitions. Even Arsenal, who have been notoriously tight over the years, spent money reinforcing their squad with the signing of Egyptian midfielder Mohammed El-Neny as cover for Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Flamini.
Despite obvious problems in the squad, admitted by the manager, nothing was done about it. Despite countless injuries in the full-back positions and throughout the squad, no cover was brought in. Even reported interest in Arsenal’s Mathieu Debuchy was met with criticism from fans and media as the 11th hour nature of the bid was bemusing.
All the criticism has been aimed at Louis van Gaal is recent months for poor performances. While he’s been a big problem for Manchester United in recent months and will undoubtedly continue to be as his stubbornness seemingly returns, he’s not the only issue.
The boardroom is full of businessmen. While that’s great for the financial side of the club, it means that success on the football pitch has almost become secondary to Manchester United. Record-breaking sponsorship deals are seen as a success while a fourth-place finish in the Premier League is seen as acceptable.
There have been calls for a Director of Football to come into the club, while a resurrection of the academy is needed. Neither of those seem like happening any time soon however as Ed Woodward tightens his iron grip on the club, filling the Glazer’s pockets with the fans’ money in the process.